It might be called, PICTURES YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE THOUGHT I’VE MADE. My first one man show opens this coming Friday, Oct. 3rd, at the Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe, and pretty much the sum of a life behind the camera will be on the walls. A total of 54 images, give or take a couple that there might not be space for.
So, over the years, I’ve done flash portraits, flash sports action, flash production. I’ve lit telescopes. I once lit the main building of Ellis Island, fer chrissakes, offering up my humble skills to the great god of the yellow border a the princely rate of $250 per day. I’ve done ridiculous things with flash, and as Clint Eastwood said in Outlaw Josey Wales, “Sometimes trouble just follows a man.”
And, quite happily, I teach flash. Large flash, small flash. You name it, I’ve pretty much used it, or tried to, sometimes well, sometimes badly. But, you know, if you stick with it long enough, some folks might come to regard you as “that flash guy.”
So, why are the majority of pictures in this show available light? Hey, wait a minute buddy! Is this some sort of hoax? I’m hauling you in front of the judge! You got a lot of explaining to do!
JUDGE: What are the charges?
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The defendant in question, your honor, appears to be guilty of the use of artificial light in wanton fashion. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, he seems to be engaged in natural light photography! It’s a criminal hoax of astonishing proportions! Those Wall Street charlatans have nothing on this guy.
JUDGE: I see. Is the defendant aware of the serious nature of these charges?
COURT APPOINTED DEFENSE COUNSEL: Your Honor, I don’t think this man is legally competent to stand trial. After that many pops of a 2400ws unit, well, the brain just sort of gives up.
JUDGE: Nonsense. The state can proceed.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Thank you, your Honor. Now Mr. McNally, a search of your premises did reveal an astonishing stockpile of flashes of all types. There were also wires, cords, battery packs, and enough double A batteries to light all of Manhattan and run the subways for at least three seconds. Does this equipment belong to you?
DEFENDANT: Yes sir, I believe it’s mine. Though a couple might be David Hobby’s. We were on a bus together for six weeks, and, well, I saw a couple SB-800’s in his bag, and you know, they don’t make that flash anymore, and I figured he’d never miss them, so, I, uh……..(Defendant begins to become emotional.)
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: And in fact you have used these lights in absurd and criminally excessive ways, have you not? (His voice rising in indignation and scorn.)
DEFENDANT: Well sir, I thought using 22 speed lights was pretty reasonable, you know? (His outward veneer of calm is breaking down.)
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: 22! Reasonable? (The D.A. sneers.) You mean to try to tell us that’s normal? That’s necessary? And I suppose we’re to believe in the tooth fairy and that mirrorless cameras will make your life better!
DEFENDANT: (Begins sobbing.) Well, I actually think the tooth fairy uses a Sony mirrorless. You know it’s lighter, and….
JUDGE: Stop rambling! Answer the question!
DEFENDANT: (Now, a thoroughly broken man.) Yes! I did it! I used lots of flash! Was it excessive? Yes! Was it necessary? No! (He composes himself.) Was it fun? Well, actually, uh…..
JUDGE: Silence! I think we’ve heard enough.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: And, to make matters worse, while you were publicly experimenting with all those flashes, getting people to try them, secretly, you were using available light all along! Disgusting!
DEFENDANT: Well sir, available light is there, you know, and sometimes it’s just so tempting. Except when it’s not there, you know, or when it’s just really bad and makes your subject look like a turd that just dropped out of a tall cow’s ass, and well, you gotta go flash….and well….
JUDGE: Done! I’m convinced of this man’s guilt. I just read a review of one of your books on Amazon. Hand me exhibit A. (He adjusts his glasses.)
It says here, “After reading the book, one has to ask, Does Joe, himself not know how he got the shot? Or is he intentionally just trying to keep us all in the dark, hoping that we’ll buy more of his books so that one day we’ll come a little closer to a better understanding? Is he afraid that if he tells us too much we may all become his competitors?”
And this one: “If you own a boatload of lighting equipment, this book is for you. It will show you how to use all kinds of strobes and softboxes and other major lighting assets. If not, there are about 4 or 5 pages that will fit your equipment profile. If you shoot existing light, save your money.”
DEFENDANT: If I may say, your honor, over half of the pictures in that book were shot available light. It’s obvious the person didn’t read it, or maybe I critiqued his Flickr stream once at a convention and he’s still, you know, pissed.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The state rests, your honor.
JUDGE: Bailiff place him in a holding cell, a really dark one, pending sentencing. Given the fact that an examination of his Delta Airlines account reveal he has flown over 1.9 million miles on that carrier, I deem him to be a flight risk and revoke his bail. I am personally confiscating your equipment, especially, ahem, that 200mm f2. He is hereby remanded to the Ambient Light Wing of the State Correctional Facility for Photographic Offenders!
BAILIFF: Your honor, that facility is currently overflowing with inmates. It was not designed to house this many people who have committed photographic crimes.
JUDGE: I don’t care! Lock him up! Put him in solitary, that cell with one window. He can spend his days watching the sunlight pattern travel across the stone walls! Better yet, lock him in a cell with a….landscape photographer!
The defendant collapses in grief, and is dragged screaming from the courtroom.
COURT APPOINTED DEFENSE COUNSEL: Your honor, I protest! Cruel and unusual punishment!